I Believe… in What? Arvo Pärt's and Alfred Schnittke's Polystylistic Credos
Author: Medić, Ivana
Source: Slavonica, Volume 16, Number 2, November 2010 , pp. 96-111(16)
Publisher: Maney Publishing
Abstract:From the late 1960s until the dissolution of the Soviet Union, numerous composers, especially those belonging to the generation born in the 1930s and commonly referred to as non-conformist, 'avant-garde' or 'unofficial', produced over 100 religious musical works. Some of these composers, such as Arvo Pärt (b. 1935) and Alfred Schnittke (1934–1998) employed the controversially flamboyant polystylistic compositional idiom to express their faith in God. Because the merits of the employment of mimetic polystylism in the realm of sacred music have rarely been analysed, my aim is to demonstrate that, in the Soviet context, it was a very appropriate vehicle for conveying religious sentiments by musical means, as it enabled the composers to express their beliefs, but also to narrate related stories. I shall address this issue by analysing three pieces: Arvo Pärt's Credo for piano solo, chorus and orchestra (1968), and the Credo movements from Alfred Schnittke's Requie m (1975) for three sopranos, contralto, tenor, mixed choir and instrumental ensemble, and Second Symphony 'St Florian' (1979) for mixed chamber choir and large orchestra. The reason for choosing the Credo 'genre' is that by definition it is a manifesto of the composer's faith in God, and hence it bears exceptional moral and spiritual weight.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: University of Manchester
Publication date: 2010-11-01